Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.1. he gathered of] R.V. he assembled.
Ch. 2 Chronicles 11:1-4 (= 1 Kings 12:21-24). Shemaiah forbids Civil War
The Chronicler here omits the elevation of Jeroboam to be king over Israel (1 Kings 12:20).
But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,2. Shemaiah] See 2 Chronicles 12:5; 2 Chronicles 12:15.
Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,3. to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin] The Chronicler does not hesitate to use the term “Israel” in speaking of Judah. Thus the princes of the Southern Kingdom are called “the princes of Israel” (2 Chronicles 12:6; 2 Chronicles 21:4), the populace as a whole is called “Israel” (2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 15:17), Jehoshaphat and Ahaz are each called “king of Israel” (2 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 28:19), and the sepulchres of the kings at Jerusalem are called the “sepulchres of the kings of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:27). (Cp. Driver, Joel, p. 9 note, for a similar use of the word.) Israel in Chron. then = the covenant-people. In Kings on the contrary Israel generally means the Northern Kingdom.
Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam.4. is done of me. And they obeyed] R.V. is of me. So they hearkened unto.
And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah.5. built cities for defence] This does not mean that all these cities were then built for the first time; certainly Beth-lehem, Tekoa, and Hebron were ancient places. Rebuilding, strengthening, and fortifying are included in the meaning of the Hebrew verb bânâh = build. The cities mentioned were situated some in the Hill Country of Judah, some in the Shephelah.
5–23. The Prosperity of Rehoboam
This section has no corresponding section in 1 Kin. On the other hand the Chronicler omits three important sections of 1 Kings 12:25-33 (the setting up of the golden calves), 2 Chronicles 13:1-22 (the episode of the prophet who cried against the altar in Beth-el) and 2 Chronicles 14:1-15 (the death of the son of Jeroboam).
He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,6. Etam] Probably represented by some ruins a little to the S.W. of Beth-lehem, by which is a spring called Ain ‘Atân. Cp. 1 Chronicles 4:3 Bädeker, p. 132.
And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam,7. Beth-zur] Represented by the ruin Burj Ṣûr to the north of Hebron. Cp. Joshua 15:58. Bädeker, p. 136.
Shoco] R.V. Soco. The cities hitherto mentioned were situated in the Hill Country, but the position of the Soco here mentioned and Adullam is uncertain. Two places bore the name Soco or Socoh, one situated in the Shephelah (Joshua 15:35; 1 Samuel 17:1, R.V.), and one in the Hill Country (“the mountains,” Joshua 15:48). For Adullam cp. Joshua 15:35; 1 Chronicles 11:15 (note on the cave of Adullam).
And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,8. Gath] Cp. 1 Chronicles 18:1.
Mareshah] in the Shephelah south of the modern Beit Jibrin. Cp. 2 Chronicles 14:9; 2 Chronicles 20:37.
Ziph] Probably Tell-Zif south of Hebron.
And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,9. Adoraim] The modern Dora west of Hebron. Bädeker, p. 152.
Azekah] in the Shephelah, mentioned along with Socoh in Joshua 15:35.
And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.10. Zorah] Joshua 15:33 (R.V.). It was situated in the Shephelah.
Aijalon] The modern Yalo, about midway between Ramleh and Jerusalem. Bädeker, pp. 15, 18. It is an ancient place mentioned in the Tell-el-Amarna letters and in Joshua 10:12, R.V. (“Valley of Aijalon,” i.e. the modern Merj ibn Omêr). Cp. 2 Chronicles 28:18, R.V.
and in Benjamin] None of the fifteen cities seems to have been in Benjamin. Zorah and Aijalon were in Dan (Joshua 19:41-42, R.V.), while the remaining thirteen were in Judah. Cp. 2 Chronicles 11:5.
And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.
And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.12. having Judah and Benjamin on his side] Render, And so Judah and Benjamin became his. Rehoboam’s fortresses (which were scattered all over the country and were not placed on the borders only) were intended to keep Judah in subjection. His appointment of military governors (2 Chronicles 11:11) and his dispersion of his sons among the fortresses (2 Chronicles 11:23) were also parts of the same policy of preparedness to put down revolt.
And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.13. resorted to him] Lit. took their stand by him.
all their coasts] R.V. all their border.
For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD:14. suburbs] See note on 1 Chronicles 5:16.
had cast them off from executing] R.V. cast them off, that they should not execute. In 1 Kin. (1 Kings 12:31; 1 Kings 13:33) it is not said that Jeroboam rejected the tribe of Levi, but only that he allowed men of any tribe to become priests; “he … made priests from among all the people” (R.V.).
And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.15. the devils] R.V. the he-goats (Leviticus 17:7 R.V.). The heathen Arabs believed in the existence of demons (called jinn) having various animal forms and inhabiting deserted places, and this belief was probably shared by the Hebrews. In this verse and in Leviticus 17:7, the writers seem to identify the gods worshipped by the heathen with these jinn. (Cp. W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, pp. 120 ff.).
the calves] Not previously mentioned in Chron.; 1 Kings 12:28.
And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.
So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.17. three years] There were three years of prosperity, in the fourth year Judah fell away into idolatry, and in the fifth year chastisement overtook them by the hand of Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:1-3).
of David and Solomon] The Chronicler here as elsewhere ignores the fall of Solomon. In 1 Kings 11:4-6 an express distinction is made between the way of David and the way of Solomon.
And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse;18. Jerimoth] Nothing is known regarding a son of David of this name. He may have been the son of a concubine (1 Chronicles 3:9).
and Abihail] R.V. and of Abihail. The verse accordingly speaks of one wife only, Mahalath, whose parents were Jerimoth and Abihail. The verb in 2 Chronicles 11:19 is in the singular; cp. 2 Chronicles 11:20 (after her).
Eliab] David’s eldest brother; 1 Samuel 16:6; 1 Samuel 17:13.
Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham.
And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.20. Maacah] Perhaps the grand-daughter of Absalom, since she is called the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah in 2 Chronicles 13:2 (where “Maacah” should be read with the LXX. for “Michaiah”). Absalom had no son (2 Samuel 18:18), but he may have had a daughter who married Uriel and became the mother of this Maacah.
Abijah] Called “Abijam” 1 Kings 15:1.
And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)
And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.22. the chief, to be ruler] R.V. to be chief, even the prince. “Ruler,” Heb. nâgîd is translated “chief ruler” (“prince” R.V.) in 1 Chronicles 5:2.
for he thought] R.V. for is was minded.
And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.23. his children throughout all the countries] R.V. his sons throughout all the lands, i.e. the territory of Judah; cp. 1 Chronicles 13:2 (R.V. mg.).
And he desired many wives] Render (with R.V. mg.), And he sought a multitude of wives. It is difficult to say whether or no the Chronicler has Deuteronomy 17:17 in his mind and is implicitly blaming the king. In any case he goes on in the next verse to say that Rehoboam forsook the law of the Lord. It is however probable that a word has fallen out of the Hebrew text and that the text ran originally thus, And he sought for them (i.e. for his sons) a multitude of wives. Rehoboam’s own conjugal matters have been already described in 2 Chronicles 11:21.